Louis Armstrong, in His Own Words: Selected Writings

Louis Armstrong, in His Own Words: Selected Writings

Louis Armstrong, in His Own Words: Selected Writings

Louis Armstrong, in His Own Words: Selected Writings

Synopsis

Louis Armstrong has been the subject of countless biographies and music histories. Yet scant attention has been paid to the remarkable array of writings he left behind. Louis Armstrong: In His Own Words introduces readers to a little-known facet of this master trumpeter, band leader, and entertainer. Based on extensive research through the Armstrong archives, this important volume includes some of his earliest letters, personal correspondence with one of his first biographers in 1943-44, autobiographical writings, magazine articles, and essays. Here are Armstrong's own thoughts on his life and career--from poverty in New Orleans to playing in the famous cafes, cabarets, and saloons of Storyville, from his big break in 1922 with the King Oliver band to his storming of New York, from his breaking of color barriers in Hollywood to the infamous King of the Zulus incident in 1949, and finally, to his last days in Queens, New York. Along the way Armstrong recorded touching portraits of his times and offered candid, often controversial, opinions about racism, marijuana, bebop, and other jazz artists such as Jelly Roll Morton and Coleman Hawkins. Indeed, these writings provide a balanced portrait of his life as a musician, entertainer, civil rights activist, and cultural icon. Armstrong's idiosyncratic use of language and punctuation have been preserved to give the reader an unvarnished portrayal of this compelling artist. This volume also includes introductions to the writings, as well as an annotated index of names and places significant to Armstrong's life.

Excerpt

The present collection of writings is like no other, for the simple reason that no jazz musician of Louis Armstrong's stature matched his sustained interest in writing. Some jazz musicians did write autobiographies, though more produced autobiographies in “as-told-to” collaborations. With the exception of two or three items, Armstrong alone wrote the words in this book with pen, pencil, and typewriter. In addition to the two autobiographies that were published during his lifetime, he wrote memoirs, essays, magazine articles, book reviews, and letters. It would be difficult to come up with a long list of major twentieth-century musicians working in any genre, not just in jazz, who produced a comparable body of written work. Armstrong's written legacy is a treasure for jazz history, for the history of African-American culture, and, indeed, for the cultural history of the United States.

The documents published in this book have been arranged to lead the reader through four main periods of Armstrong's life—early life in New Orleans, the spectacular rise of his career in Chicago and New York during the 1920s, touring life during the 1940s and 1950s, and his final years in . . .

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